Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Copyright © 2004 Scottsdale Cultural Council - Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
I just returned from the latest IKT conference in Helsinki / Tallinn, where I met new colleagues, saw some new spaces and posed some new questions about museum spaces.
I've had a lot of conversations with colleagues on the difficulties encountered when dealing with architect-designed spaces that just refuse the art. An architect colleague recently said to me that it's really the curator's fault--when new curatorial teams come on board to a museum, they want to change up the use of space, thereby rendering the space difficult. How to address this issue?
What museums do curators really love? I've had discussions with several architect colleagues in Phoenix--Will Bruder, Eddie Jones, Maria & Matt Salenger, John Meunier--to discuss the function of museum buildings. When talking about the Santiago Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, (hint to MAM--you should play up the building on your website, you're internationally known for it!) for instance, Eddie Jones has stated that the museum was designed to be an icon, first and foremost, and by golly, he's right, Calatrava did his job.
But is it a functional space to display art work? The lobby is loud, they carved a two-dimensional space out of a lovely volume, the articulated ribs on the side are tough for art (and you risk bonking your head!) How do these public spaces function, and for whom?
The picture above is of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where I spent four years curating exhibitions inside the Will Bruder-designed space. While Bruder followed the proportions of the former $2 movie theater, the space was rich, generous and giving--lots of things can be achieved in the various galleries, all different sizes. Not too much architecture, but enough personality to create an elegant dance. I will add this space to my "buildings I like" list.